May 26, 2013

RANDOM FACT: Cholesterol

According to American Hearth Association, almost 50% of adults over 20 have high cholesterol.  Shockingly, I am one of them.  Not that I just found that out.  Actually, the last couple of checkups have shown it to be higher than desirable.  But the scariest thing is that it keeps going up.  Particularly, my LDL (bad) level is crazy out of control. So of course, I am concerned – not ready to die yet.  Per my research the risk factors of high cholesterol are:
  • Smoking (I never have).
  • Obesity (my BMI is under 20).
  • Poor diet (until now I thought I was a health freak – I eat very little fat and very little overall).
  •  Lack of exercise (I work out 5-6 times a week).
  • High blood pressure (last time I checked, my blood pressure was 103/98).
  •  Alcohol (I only drink in Vegas ha ha ha).
  • Certain medications (I am not on any prescription medication).
  • Your age (I am not over 55 yet).
  • Family history (No history of heart attacks in our family).
Ultimately, cholesterol deposits in your arteries will result in their hardening and narrowing preventing blood flood to the heart, which eventually will lead to a heart attack and stroke.

As I was under impression that I was already eating super healthy, I purposefully tracked my cholesterol intake for two weeks.  The recommended amount is less than 300 grams a day for a 2,000-calorie diet, if you do not have heart disease.  I did not change the way I was eating during those two weeks, and I was averaging around 250 grams of dietary cholesterol a day.  What da what?  Is it possible that my high cholesterol is hereditary?

Since it does not look like I have any other options for lowering my cholesterol than through diet, I decided to figure out a way to do it.  According to my research, there are three ways that you can affect your levels:
  1. Soluble fiber – removes cholesterol from your body (use your imagination).
  2. Plant sterols – block body from absorbing cholesterol that you eat.
  3. Polyunsaturated fats – directly lower LDL levels.
Basically, I need to eat more whole grains (oatmeal) and beans, fruits and vegetables, omega-3s (fish and nuts), soy (tofu), and olive oil. And cut down on animal protein (even chicken breast has about 45 mgs of cholesterol - see nutritional info below) and dairy. Yup, the future holds a lot of label-reading for me.

Please visit your doctor.  You too could have high cholesterol, even though you may not look like it.

Healthful links:
High Cholesterol
10 Surprising Facts about Cholesterol
Top 10 Cholesterol Fighting Foods
15 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Cholesterol

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